In a tragic incident that rocked the nation, the 6-year-old son of America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh was kidnapped from a Florida mall by a notorious serial killer and then decapitated. Although his severed head was discovered in Vero Beach by fishermen, the little boy's body was never discovered.
On July 27, 1981, Reve Walsh left her son, Adam Walsh, by himself in the toy section of the Sears department store. Upon her return, she discovered to her horror that her son had vanished. Even though announcements over the loudspeaker were made and the mother spent two hours frantically searching for her son in the mall, no trace of him was found. Finally, the police were called in.
Many names were suggested in the kidnap and murder of the little boy but the name that came to the forefront was that of Ottis Toole who worked in partnership with another serial killer by the name of Henry Lee Lucas. However, from the beginning mistakes were made in the investigation as this excerpt explains: "Authorities made a series of crucial errors, losing the bloodstained carpeting in Toole's car — preventing DNA testing — and the car itself. It was a week after the boy's disappearance before the FBI got involved."
Although Ottis Toole was the prime suspect and confessed to killing the boy, he later recanted. He was already serving life sentences for murders committed when he died from liver failure at the age of 49. His niece told police that Toole had confessed to killing Adam Walsh before his death.